Trip Report Trip Report: Galapagos Islands September 2017

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Premo83

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In September I went to the Galapagos. What an amazing place both above and below the surface but I focus here on the diving part. I did go on the Humboldt Explorer for a seven day trip. The boat is fine, nothing luxurious, the AC in our cabin didn’t work so it got quite warm. Space is very limited but manageable and the boat never felt too crowded for me as there is a big sundeck to hang out. The dive deck has enough space. The crew is very helpful and fun, they did a very good job. The food was great and always plentyful.

We usually did 4 dives a day unless we were travelling to or from the northern Islands of Wolf and Darwin. The water temperature ranged from 16° to 23°. On the first day of diving at Punta Carrion we only had 5-10 meters visibility. There were lots of Jelly fish, a couple turtels, rays and reef sharks. Plus we got a glimpse of a Mola Mola. After a land excursion on the North Seymour Island, which was very impressive, we headed to Wolf Island. We were diving there for one and half days. Visibility continued to be bad but you could see how amazing this place was. Lots of Hammerhead Sharks passing by but it was it was more like shadows or silhouettes due to the poor visibility. Sometimes one got close when you held your breath and remained still. Galapagos sharks were also on patrol and the occasional eagle rays. Big pods of Dolphins we saw from the Zodiak. One time we jumped in for a short snorkel. Next we moved to Darwin. Visibility got better and there we could see the big schools of Hammerhead Sharks much better. There were also lots of Galapagos and Silky sharks and sometimes an Oceanic Black tip Shark. Also Turtels everywhere. Unfortunately no Whalesharks. The days before they saw plenty but that’s nature. I would have loved to see them but I came mainly for the Hammerheads so I was happy. After one and half days at Darwin we headed back to Wolf Island again. It was pretty similar to the first time lots of sharks but poor visibility. So we headed south overnight to Cousin’s rock for the last two dives. There you could see sea lions, white tip reef sharks and one group had a Manta Ray encounter. So I returned quite happy from the trip. I wish we had better visibility but the things I saw were already very impressive. The dives with good visibility at Darwin were some of the best dives I’ve ever had.

Below is a short 5 min. video of the trip.

 

Dom@DiveAdvice

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Thanks Premo - much appreciate your report and your wonderful video. Sorry you did not get the visibility you may have wished for but the images you took are impressive and I think will give most people the feeling of how special it is. FYI - we had 4 back to back charters aboard the Humboldt Explorer from Sep 11-Oct 9 and I was under the impression that they had whale shark encounters on all of them, so I presume that you may have been there in early September - sorry you did not get to see them but as you say, such is nature.
 

drrich2

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Glad to had a fine trip, and shared it! Since you had a good time on land, too, how'd you set up your land adventures? Are land excursions typically set up differently apart from just booking the boat? I figure many people considering a Galapagos live-aboard would be interested.

Richard.
 

Dom@DiveAdvice

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Forgive me for jumping in again as I know many people prefer to hear direct from a diver who has just been there, and not from an industry expert that some might perceive as having a conflict of interest on good advice. However i have been to Galapagos many times and I highly recommend that people add on a few days (as much time as they can) before or after a dive live-aboard, as the island are so special and you can add additional dive days to sites that you would not dive on the boat, and/or some days visiting islands in the park for naturalist tours. There are many levels of hotels to stay at but there are a few that we recommend at very inexpensive rates, and it is very important that you book tours and diving in advance as you may not find space on the trip you wish to do, or you end up with one of the less recommended day boats or dive centers that we would not even book if someone asked us to. Rates are not much different when booked in advance, although as we know everywhere in the world, there is always the chance of walking along a key and finding a last minute rate - but it is not as it used to be so those are offers are rare. So hopefully divers will add on a few days in the central islands to their dive liveaboard to Darwin & Wolf.
 
OP
Premo83

Premo83

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FYI - we had 4 back to back charters aboard the Humboldt Explorer from Sep 11-Oct 9 and I was under the impression that they had whale shark encounters on all of them, so I presume that you may have been there in early September - sorry you did not get to see them but as you say, such is nature.

I was on the September 11 trip but no whale sharks. They were around at Darwin before we got there. Just didn't get lucky during our dives.
 
OP
Premo83

Premo83

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Glad to had a fine trip, and shared it! Since you had a good time on land, too, how'd you set up your land adventures? Are land excursions typically set up differently apart from just booking the boat? I figure many people considering a Galapagos live-aboard would be interested.

Richard.
This time I booked all through a travel agency which is specialized for diving trips but we added a land program. They worked together with a local agency. I stayed another 8 days to see the Galapagos topside and it is well worth it. If you are just going there for diving, which is amazing, you are missing out. I did both day tours and another cruise (4 day cruise). I recommend doing a cruise as it is much more relaxed and you get to see more. Day trips you spend a lot of time just on speed boats. I did day trips from Santa Cruz to Isabela and Floreana. On both trips it's two hours one way. It was nice but also exhausting. What's also important to know on the dive trip we had two land adventures as well. Once we went to North Seymour Island which was great if you like to see birds and at the end of the trip we went to see the big tortoises on Santa Cruz. I booked all well in advance but I assume you can get better deals if you are flexible and not on a too tight of schedule. I hope this helps a little bit.
 

cwan

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Hi, would you mind sharing which travel agency you used? My husband and I are looking into a very similar trip. Do you think the dive aboard was very well worth it? I'm curious, since most people report how rough waters are, or how poor visibility is, perhaps this trip we will even skip the diveaboard, and perhaps just do a day dive here and there (though won't get to Wolf/Darwin). We've dived all over the world and it's hard to not want to do the dive aboard, but at the same time, it seems the islands have so much on land to see as well, and time is limited. Thank you
 

Dom@DiveAdvice

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I would recommend a live-aboard if it is within your budget. It is an expensive destination to get there and if you have dived all over the world, I am quite sure that the live-aboard experience would give you pelagic encounter that you will never forget. The diving in the central islands is OK and you may see some hammerheads, sealions and a variety of life, but it does not compare with the pelagic action at Darwin & Wolf. At certain times of year, from December thru May, typically the sea conditions are calmer, the waters are warmer and the visibility can be good, but like the mass animal migration across the Masai Mara in Africa, the most prolific pelagic action is from July thru November, when water is cooler, and sea conditions can get agitated, but viz can still be excellent. If however you do not have the time, will or the budget for a live-aboard, then a naturalist cruise in the central islands and maybe additional days at a hotel with some local diving is not a bad second choice. You can do it all from a land base with visits to a few nearby islands in the National park but the experience is quite different. If you would like us to give you a quote then please feel welcome to contact me by e-mail with details of time frame and what you would like to do. My mail is dom@diveadvice.com and I hope that we can assist you with your plans. Kind regards, Dom
 
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Premo83

Premo83

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I would recommend doing a live-aboard as well. Diving at Wolf and Darwin is off the charts. We often had poor visibility but it was still great and when the visibility was alright it was simply amazing. You have almost all the time a mild to strong current there and the water is cold (depending on the month). It takes a toll on you but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I booked my trip through a Swiss travel agent. I can share it with you but I don't know if that's an option for you.
 
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